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GINZA BAIRIN MANILA: BEST Katsudon, Kurobuta Rosu Tonkatsu and Unagi Katsu @GinzaBairinPH

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GINZA BAIRIN pioneered the modern Katsu House in Japan in Ginza, the luxurious district in Tokyo, in 1927. It's a boutique family-ran Katsu franchise with branches in Tokyo, Hawaii, Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Seoul and now in Manila.

Ginza Bairin's claim to fame is that they invented the modern Tonkatsu sauce formulated by pharmacist epicurean patron,  Nobukatsu Shibuya. Its name is inspired by Bairin, or plum forest, which they say is the secret behind their Tonkatsu sauce. 

Also, Ginza Bairin's Special Katsudon is hailed as the number one Donburi in Japan by Japanese Food authorities from culinary TV programs Asahi "Tokyo Restaurant Guide" and Fuji TV "VivaVivaV6" and as well as Iron Chefs Robusaburo Michibo and Yoshiharu Doi.

We were fortunate to dine with Masaya Shibuya, third generation owner of Ginza Bairin, who shared with us stories about Katsu and how to properly appreciate it the Ginza Bairin way.

Battle for the BEST Tonkatsu in Manila:

The Best Restos of New Glorietta in Makati:

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Ginza Bairin opened its flagship store at Glorietta 2 beside Wee Nam Kee along Palm Drive.

They plan to open the second store at UP Town Center near UP and Ateneo.

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The Ginza Bairin Manila store has a simple modern Japanese ambiance,

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with emphasis on geometric shapes, cove lighting, and zen-like feel.

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The menu is simple,  highlighting the 3 ways to enjoy Katsu: Tonkatsu, Katsu Sando and Katsudon.

Ginza Bairin MenuThe Story of Ginza Bairin | Ginza Bairin Tokyo | Authentic Katsu in 3 delicious ways | Ginza Bairin Katsu: only the best ingredients | Tonkatsu (Photo) | The Bounty of Teishoku | Kurobuta Tonkatsu Photo | Ginza Bairin Sets | Seafood Katsu Set | Mixed Katsu Sets | Special Katsudon (Photo) | Katsudon SetsKatsu Curry Sets | Katsu A la Carte | Katsu Sando |  Appetizers | Dessert | Ginza Bairin International Branches

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They provide cold damp towels to refresh and prepare you for the dining experience.

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Edamame (P115).

It's a good starter while you wait for the Katsu which takes some time to prepare.

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Korokke (P110). Japanese potato croquettes

This was really good Spanish- inspired appetizer but it was a bit heavy and kind of  spoil your anticipation for your Katsu.

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Gyoza (P150)

Better to start with the Gyoza which comes with feathers or thin layer of crust. This type of serving is quite popular in Japan but first time I've tried here in Manila.

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Katsu Sando (P215). Japanese Katsu sandwich solo.

You can also order this signature Katsu sandwich in fluffy Japanese bread with its own sauce. It's good for take-out and good baon alternative for the kids. 

Although, I still prefer to eat my Katsu with rice.

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Teishoku (set meal). The Katsu sets come with unlimited serving of Japanese Koshihikari rice, fresh cabbage salad and dressings, miso soup, seasonal Tsukemono (Japanese Pickles), and Genmaicha (Japanese brown rice tea). In Manila, they also added serving of fresh seasonal fruit.

The unlimited serving has become a standard across the different Tonkatsu shops in Manila.

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I like Ginza Bairin's sesame sauce vs. the wasabi soy sauce, because of its balanced sesame sweet taste which you can't get tired of. 

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★ Kurobuta Rosu Katsu Set (P595). Berkshire black pig prized for its texture and flavor.

You can order your Tonkatsu in three forms: Hire (pork fillet) with lean pork meat, Rosu (pork loin) with a layer of fat, or the premium Kurobuta Rosu, with a good marbling of fat.

I love the Kurobuta Rosu Katsu of Ginza Bairin vs. Yabu  because of its thick meaty slices. Saboten does not serve the Kurobuta version. 

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In Ginza Bairin, they offer four choices of dipping for your Tonkatsu: 

  • Special Tonkatsu sauce,
  • Grounded black and white sesame seeds with Tonkatsu sauce,
  • Grounded black and white sesame seeds with pink Himalayan seasalt, and 
  • Pink Himalayan sea salt with Karashi (spicy mustard).

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I prefer to pair it with just the Tonkatsu sauce which is the Ginza Bairin way.

But since Yabu and Saboten, already trained the market to ground the black and white sesame seeds with the Tonkatsu sauce, they had to offer it also plus the pink Himalayan sea salt.

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Masaya Shibuya-san said that there are four (4) key criteria for a good Tonkatsu:

  • Quality of the pork (Kurobuta is the most premium used in Katsu)
  • Quality of the oil used (healthier cottonseed oil with zero trans fat is preferred)
  • Quality of the Panko (good bread crumbs should be standing up and does not spoil the taste)
  • Quality of the Tonkatsu sauce.

(Trivia: Did you know that Katsu was inspired by the Milanese Veal Cutlet, and they had to use pork because veal is not available in Japan)

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The best Katsu though in Ginza Bairin is the Unagi Katsu set! 

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★ Unagi Katsu Set (P795). Luxuriously delicious kabayaki experience!

This is so good that the Unagi melts in your mouth with flavors enhanced with the textured breading. It's a bit expensive though - P130/slice  :(

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Seafood Katsu Set (P525). Prawn, Premium White Fish, Salmon

They also have seafood alternatives and the kids love the Ebi Atsu which is better than Tempura. 

They don't have oyster options though.

 

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★ Special Katsudon Set (P395). These are what make this Ginza Bairin original truly special: tender hire Katsu, fragrant Japanese Koshihikari rice, an intensely flavorful sauce of broth simmered for hours, and a double serving of golden farm fresh eggs.

This is one of the BEST Katsudon I've ever tasted here in Manila. It's so good because of the quality of the sauce they use, and the egg.

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The Ginza Bairin way to eat the Katsudon is to make a triangle border around the egg. You first egg the Katsudon on the sides to appreciate its flavor.

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Next is to pinch the egg and spread the yolk around.

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The egg is special with an orange-colored yolk and makes the Katsudon sinfully yummy!

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The best way to eat is to make sure to combine the Katsu with the rice, egg, and sauce of the yolk.

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Ebi Katsudon Set (P425).

I also like the prawn version but the egg is usually mixed already.

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Ice Cream Trio (P235). Vanilla, Green Tea, or Black Sesame

For dessert, they serve FIC and Big Scoop ice cream which is the usual dessert in most Japanese restos in town.

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Coffee Jelly with Vanilla Ice Cream (P90).

A good alternative is the coffee jelly with ice cream which is a better sweet finish to a delightful Katsu meal.

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Congratulations to (photo from left to right):

  • Chef Yoshijiro Miyakozawa, International Head Chef; 
  • Chef Yukio Hayashi, Philippines Head Chef; 
  • Masaya Shibuya, President & Owner;  
  • Tetsuya Ohyabu, Ginza Bairin Manager, Administration Dept; and 
  • Scott Tan, Managing Director, Ginza Bairin Philippines of Bon Chon Philippines fame, 

for a successful Ginza Bairin opening in Manila!

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Overall, we love the Kurobuto Rosu Katsu, the special Katsudon, and heavenly Unagi Katsu Set! The Katsu Sando was nothing special though but good for take out or baon. The kids love the ebi Katsu :)

 Also, It's great to have unlimited options and good sauce options for the katsu. I particularly like theTonkatsu sauce and Sesame sauce which is carefully balanced in taste without overpowering the taste of the meat.

Dessert could be better, and most Japanese restaurants have the same ice cream dessert.

Budget P500/pax or P800/pax specially if you will try the highly recommended Unagi Katsu :)

GINZA BAIRIN PHILIPPINES 
Authentic Tokyo Katsu Since 1927
Ground Floor Glorietta 2 (along Palm Drive), Ayala Center, Makati City
Telephone: +632 553-7350
Operating Hours:
Monday to Friday 10.00 AM to 11.00 PM
Saturday to Sunday 10.00 AM to 12.00 MN 
Facebook: Ginza Bairin PH
Twitter: Ginza Bairin PH

★ - Highly Recommended

Related Blog Posts:

Battle for the BEST Tonkatsu in Manila:

The Best Restos of New Glorietta in Makati:

 

Live an Awesome Life,

anton  signature 
Founder, www.OurAwesomePlanet.com
Follow @antondiaz and Like our Official Facebook Page: Our Awesome Planet :) 
If you have tips on awesome food and travel destinations, please email me at anton@diaz.ph.

Full Disclosure: Our meal was courtesy of Ginza Bairin. I wrote this blog post myself, and it expresses my own opinions. 

P.S. For perspective, Saboten opened their first shop in Shinjuku, Tokyo  in 1966. But Saboten expanded with more branches and more popularly known for its modern Katsu franchise around the world. Also, they are credited to introduce the black and sesame seed innovation with the Tonkatsu sauce.

Search restaurant menus and get freebies all over the metro.

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Comments

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Hi Anton, I was waiting for you to write about Ginza Bairin as soon as it opened in Manila.

I've been a great fan of the restaurant in Ginza, HK and SG.

One big difference with Ginza Bairin and Saboten (which opened recently) is that Ginza Bairin offers "salt".

Good ingredients is best eaten with just salt.

Like Tempura, if it is made of the best ingredients, it should be tasted with only salt to enjoy the "real taste".

The tonkatsu of Ginza Bairin is worth trying only with salt.

Thanks for this tip Atsushi! I actually liked it with the salt, and it enhances the flavor.

I thought Japanese like their food with sauce. Is there any particular salt? or pink Himalayan salt is recommended?

Wow, those foods are delicious :) I want Katsu Sando LOL

"One big difference with Ginza Bairin and Saboten (which opened recently) is that Ginza Bairin offers "salt".

but why is that when i ate at soboten they also offer pink himalayan sea salt..

Had a very disheartening experience at GINZA BAIRIN Glorietta. Complete incompetence from the front door. Told us we were second in line, so we waited... And waited... And waited over half an hour, wondering why they were letting all these other people in. Turns out, there were four or five other people "in line" who went off shopping or whatnot, and then when they came back, they would just be ushered in. And they didn't bother to tell us. So of course we went elsewhere. I don't care if their katsudon is number one in Japan. Their service is definitely a zero.

Tried Ginza Bairin recently and I agree that their food quality is very good even though its a bit more expensive than the other Tonkatsu places!

I would surely come back for more!

Unagi is not good for the environment though.. . .

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